Nothing says “childhood” like a big bowl of creamy mac and cheese. Come to think of it, as one of the ultimate comfort foods, mac and cheese also says, “long day at the office”, “cold blistery night” and “heartbreak recovery”.
We’ve got great recipes for mac and cheese online, but when it came to one super simple method for making everybody's favorite comfort food this recipe elbowed its way to the top. What’s really comforting about this recipe is that although it may taste rich, you don’t have to be to make it. Using just four basic ingredients – milk, flour, cheese and macaroni – you can create macaroni magic in mere minutes. Here’s how:
- 1 pound whole wheat or regular elbow macaroni
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese, about 2 cups
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta well.
While macaroni cooks, whisk together milk and flour in a medium pot. Bring milk mixture just to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. It should be about the consistency of heavy whipping cream, so reduce the heat and gently simmer for a minute or so, stirring often, if it needs more time to thicken.
Remove pot from the heat and gently stir in grated cheddar, one handful at a time, until the sauce is smooth. Stir in salt and black pepper.
Add pasta, stir well and serve.
Transform this creamy dish into a baked favorite by transferring finished mac and cheese to an oiled baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and more grated cheese, and bake at 350°F until melted and golden.
Tip and Tricks
The mac and cheese can stand alone but it’s also a dish that gets even better when you add things in. Consider stirring in different veggies, cheeses or meats to oomph up the nutrition and make this dish grand. Here are some of our favorites:
Thinly sliced kale, spinach or Swiss chard
Steamed broccoli florets
Diced heirloom tomatoes
Small pieces of goat milk Brie (a Sure Deal! at only $3.99)
Blue cheese crumbles
Chopped smoked salmon
Cooked crab cakes, broken into pieces
Diced cooked meatballs (download a coupon in the fall issue of The Whole Deal)
Shredded barbeque or rotisserie chicken
Frozen vegetable blends
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Have you mastered homemade mac and cheese with mix-ins? How do you serve it?